Characterising Behavioural Thermoregulation in the Bearded Dragon: The Role of TRPM8
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Temperature regulation is a necessary part of maintaining life, as most biological processes are influenced by temperature. ThermoTRP channels are considered the primary thermosensors in endotherms, but little is known regarding their function in ectotherms. The goal of this study is to establish TRPM8, a cold sensing channel, as a participant in normal thermoregulation of the bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps), an ectotherm. Animals were placed inside a ramping temperature shuttle box to assess the common behavioural thermoregulatory strategy of shuttling. Shuttling involves the periodic movement between cold and warm environments to maintain body temperature at moderate levels. The temperatures for cold and warm escapes represent sensory thresholds for inducing the shuttling thermoeffector. Animals were administered with: 1) an injection of the TRM8 antagonist capsazepine, 2) an injection of the TRPM8 agonist menthol, and 3) menthol applied topically. No effect was observed with injected drugs, but topical menthol resulted in a 2-3oC rise in the ambient temperature threshold and 1-2oC rise in skin temperature threshold for escape from the cold compartment. In an additional experiment, gaping behaviour, a warm temperature thermoregulatory strategy, was assessed. No effect was observed in this behaviour when the same dose of menthol was applied topically. These results point to a role for TRPM8 only in thermoregulation as it relates to cold temperature sensation in lizards, since it does not participate in regulating warm temperature behaviours such as gaping.